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Playground targeted by arsonists set to rise from the ashes

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Executive members of the Pig’s Field Family Connection as well as members of the associated community group (Photograph supplied)
The aftermath of the fire at Pigs Field playground (File photograph)

A playground destroyed by fire will rise from the ashes, according to an executive committee tasked with rebuilding the site targeted by an arsonist.

The Pig’s Field Family Connection has been launched to work in tandem with community members and the government to replace the playground that was burnt to the ground at the Pembroke site on April 10, while also developing the entire field as a thriving community hub.

The organisation has obtained an official fundraising license and is currently applying for charitable status to raise funds for the effort.

Money raised will help not only to restore the privately-built playground which is located on a government park, but to provide maintenance and amenities including a community centre, bathrooms, seating and exercise equipment.

Rhydell Paynter, president of the committee, said: “Since the executive was formed we have seen how big the beast is and this will have to be done in phases.

“We want to replace the equipment that was burnt down but we have other long-term goals and we are in the process of costing for all of those.

“Phase one will be the reinstatement of the playground equipment and then we will be securing the field.

“We met with the Parks Department about maintenance of field and we would also like to build a community centre as a long-term goal.

“We will ensure that it is sustainable for the future.”

A fundraising goal will be determined as the project progresses, Mr Paynter added.

Mr Paynter said that one of his biggest concerns was the traumatisation of children who used the site, some of whom witnessed the playground in flames. He said they would be given the opportunity to be a part of the restoration effort.

“In getting them involved in the choice of equipment and doing the preparation work, it could be therapeutic,” he said.

He added that some of the original equipment was preserved and that a time capsule would be placed at the site.

Patrina O’Connor Paynter, committee co-secretary, who is also managing director for youth mentor charity Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bermuda, added: “The children and the whole community deserve this and if we all rally together as a community we can make it happen.”

A few days after the fire, Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs, pledged to help rebuild the playground.

Mr Roban, who is also the Deputy Premier and the MP for the constituency, told The Royal Gazette yesterday: “The response to what happened to Pig’s Field has not just been from the immediate community, it was island-wide in terms of the shock and dismay.

“I have come into contact with different generations and it has been an important part of all of their lives.

“When I committed to running for Pembroke East in 2007, my campaign was launched at Pig’s Field as it was viewed as the core centre of the community. It was crucial to my own journey.

“That is why it is very easy for me to commit to working with the community to restore the field.”

Mr Roban said that the Parks Department has committed to working with the committee and will assist with aspects of its maintenance.

The playground, on Bandroom Lane, was destroyed in the fire at a cost of $60,000.

It took six firefighters and two trucks to put out the blaze just after 8.20pm.

The police conducted an enquiry into the incident and confirmed that the playground was deliberately set alight. A number of suspects were arrested in relation to the incident, among other fire incidents in the area, and have been released on police bail, pending the decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions’ office.

Anyone with information on the incident at Pig’s Field or other fires in the area should call to call 211 or 295-0011 or the confidential Crime Stoppers number 800-8477.

Those wishing to donate to the Pig’s Field Family Connection cause can deposit funds into Clarien Bank using the following details:

Bank Account Number: 6000252584

Account name: Pig’s Field Restoration

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Published July 05, 2021 at 7:56 am (Updated July 13, 2021 at 12:28 pm)

Playground targeted by arsonists set to rise from the ashes

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